May 23, 2024
MRI Studios Grand Opening Event
Building a more equitable Downtown

Downtown BOOST Program

The Downtown BOOST Program supports the long term success of BIPOC-Owned businesses in Downtown Baltimore through grant funding and a robust cohort model.


We’re excited to announced our BOOST Harborplace recipients on April 24, 2024.

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The Latest


Downtown Partnership and MCB Real Estate Launch Applications for Downtown BOOST Harborplace Local Tenancy Program

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, in partnership with MCB Real Estate, is excited to announce that applications are now open for small businesses to apply to the Downtown BOOST Harborplace Local Tenancy Program.

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Announcing the Next Class of Black Businesses Selected for the Downtown BOOST Program

Downtown Partnership is thrilled to announce the entrepreneurs selected for the second cohort of the Black Owned and Operated Storefront Tenancy (BOOST) Program.

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Checking in with NKVSKIN

For Black Business Month, we’re highlighting our Downtown BOOST businesses. NKVSKIN is taking the natural skincare world by storm with her house-made effective products, and a new spa in Downtown Baltimore.

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Checking in with The Black Genius Art Show

For Black Business Month, we’re highlighting the inaugural Downtown BOOST businesses. Today, we check in with Bryan Robinson of The Black Genius Art Show, who is making waves in Baltimore’s arts community.

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Bottom Line

By supporting innovative Black-owned businesses, this initiative will address historical and contemporary racial inequities while fostering a more dynamic, safe and vibrant downtown.

Black image.
What The BOOST Program Does for Your Business


Benefits of Being Selected as a BOOST Business:

  • Grant Funding — This varies ($20,000-50,000+) based on program year and type.
  • Cohort Model — Small businesses progress together through a series of workshops and activities, fostering collaboration, shared learning, and mutual support.
  • Lease Assistance: help sourcing storefront spaces and assistance negotiating fair lease terms.
  • Wraparound Support: Including robust technical, legal, marketing, public relations, zoning and permitting services.

Why We Believe in This Initiative


As in the rest of the country, storefront vacancies have increased in Downtown Baltimore due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Black-owned small business have been most at-risk for closure, and have historically had less access to capital funding. Additionally, targeted business incentives will ensure Downtown Baltimore’s retail sector has a swift and equitable recovery.

Who We Are Looking For


BOOST Seeks Entrepreneurs with the Following:

  • Strong business plan — demonstrate ability to execute concept
  • Broad community impact — foster collaboration, offer unique experiences.
  • Original ideas — innovative, unique to Downtown Baltimore.
  • Support Downtown's recovery —increase foot traffic, attract new customers.

The Businesses That Qualify


Your Business is Eligible if You Meet the Following Criteria:

  • Operational retail businesses in Maryland for at least 1 year, with preference for applicants of color.
  • Must currently employ at least 2 employees.
  • Qualifying businesses operate open, activated storefronts for goods and services, including food and beverage, clothing, markets, and specialty retailers.
  • Businesses operating in Greater Baltimore area, with priority for those in the City.

About the Program

The BOOST program, and its iterations provide grant funding, as well as robust technical, legal, marketing, zoning and permitting services to support their long term success of BIPOC-owned businesses in currently vacant retail spaces. It's a win-win.

Meet Codetta Bake Shop
Meet the BOOSTERs

Business Directory

Bmore Empowered

5 N Howard St. Website | Instagram

Codetta Bake Shop

300 W Redwood St. Website | Instagram


305 N Howard St. Website | Instagram

Elite Secrets Bridal

339 N Charles St. + 100 N Charles St. Website | Instagram

From Baltimore with Love

7 N Howard St. Website | Instagram

Media Rhythm Institute

20 N Howard St. Website | Instagram


113 N Charles St. Website | Instagram

Sacred House

417 N Howard St. Website | Instagram

Smith Co

100 W Lexington St. Website | Instagram

The Black Genius Art Show

106 N Eutaw St. Website | Instagram
BOOST in the News

MRI Studios in

“When asked about the impact of being a part of the Downtown BOOST program on MRI and its opening, Welch highlighted: “Their support has been instrumental in guiding us through the process of transitioning into a physical location. They have assisted us with various aspects, including negotiating leases, designing and building out the space and determining the functionality of the space. They have also provided assistance with staffing and employee-related matters. Essentially, they have covered everything that a small business needs.”

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MRI Studios Grand Opening Event
BOOST in the News

Midday with Tom Hall (WYPR)

“We’re happy to welcome back to the show Shelonda Stokes, the president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, to talk about the BOOST Program for African American retailers… She joins us on Zoom along with two entrepreneurs who are benefiting from the BOOST program: Bryan Robinson is the arts space proprietor of The Black Genius Art Show. LaTonya Turnage is the founding owner of Elite Secrets Bridal Boutique.”

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BOOST in the News

Ebony Magazine

“In Baltimore, a new program is paving the way for entrepreneurs to attract and uplift Black-owned retail businesses in Downtown Baltimore neighborhoods. With support from Downtown Partnership of Baltimore’s (DPOB) Black-Owned & Occupied Storefront Tenancy Program (BOOST) program, led by Shelonda Stokes, president of DPOB. The first of its kind, BOOST’s purpose is to strengthen and revitalize the Central Business District of Baltimore by supporting small, creative Black-owned retail businesses and arm them with expert resources to set them up for success.”

— Jenn Barthole of Ebony Magazine

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Press event for Downtown BOOST Program: Presented by Fearless featuring Shelonda Stokes, Mayor Brandon Scott, Delali Dzirasa, Councilman Eric Costello, Lou Kousoris, Council President Nick Mosby, and more.
BOOST in the News

Media Rhythm Institute in BBJ

“Media Rhythm Institute’s new space will help prepare young creatives entering the media industry.


Media Rhythm Institute is seeking to change the landscape for aspiring media industry professionals through comprehensive arts education.”


— Alicia Diaz at Baltimore Business Journal

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BOOST in the News

Black Genius Art Show in BBJ

“Bryan Robinson formed his creative brainchild, The Black Genius Art Show,so people could experience his art by buying custom paintings or apparel. The East Baltimore native now wants to expand his vision and create a physical space for fellow local artists to run shows, while he mentors and curates.”


— Alicia Diaz at Baltimore Business Journal

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Black Genius art Show storefront space in Downtown Baltimore.
BOOST in the News

BOOST Winner Announcement

“Five entrepreneurs have been selected to take part in a new incubator program designed to fill empty downtown retail spaces with Black-owned businesses.”


— Ed Gunts at Baltimore Fishbowl

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LaTonya Turnage, of Elite Secrets Bridal, A Downtown BOOST program awardee.
BOOST in the News

BOOST in Baltimore Sun

“With an eye toward increasing Black-owned retail businesses in downtown Baltimore, the Downtown Partnership is launching an initiative that will pair creative Black businesses with vacant storefronts, and connect them with technical, marketing and other expertise.”



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Shelonda Stokes at Downtown Partnership
Made Possible By

Sponsors & Partners

MCB Real Estate

The Mayor's Office

Guinness Open Gate Brewery


Baltimore Community Lending

Gross Mendelsohn

Real Projectives

Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP

Maryland Small Business Development Center

Small Business Resource Center

Trout Daniel & Associates.